Vacant lots to surround quay

Gareth Parker State Political Editor
An Elizabeth Quay site plan. Picture supplied by WA Government

For more than three years the Barnett Government has illustrated its signature city infrastructure project, Elizabeth Quay, with computer-generated images showing the river inlet and pedestrian boardwalks surrounded by skyscrapers featuring office towers, hotels and apartments.

But this is the reality of what the quay will look like when it opens to the public in November this year.

The image is contained in a package of Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority tender documents calling for temporary operators of “activation activities” on empty building lots that will surround the quay for years.

The MRA is seeking public entertainment that may include food, markets, art exhibitions, cultural shows, music, shopping, kids’ entertainment and adventure tourism.

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The tender documents say the area surrounding the quay would not be fully developed for 15-20 years but Planning Minister John Day has since sought to play that suggestion down, saying Elizabeth Quay would take 10 years to develop.

Rather than the modern skyscrapers that the Government’s glossy images portray, vacant lots will surround the quay for several years.

Only four of nine quay lots have yet been contracted for sale and only two lots have development committed — the Ritz Carlton Hotel and adjacent apartment development by the Far East Consortium.

Work is not expected to begin on that project until February or March next year.

Lots 7 and 8, in the north-east corner, have been purchased by Chevron but the energy giant has not yet committed to developing a building and the MRA can buy back the site if it does not make a decision to proceed next year.

The Government was in negotiations with Brookfield over lots 5 and 6 but the company had until next year to make a decision, MRA chief Kieran Kinsella told Parliament.

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The Government has decided to hold back lot 4 from sale and lots 2 and 3 will not be offered for expressions of interest until next month, with any announcement about sale due early next year.

Mr Day said any major project like Elizabeth Quay would take time to complete.

“The major public works are expected to be completed around the end of this year,” Mr Day said.

“But it’s always been expected, and in fact there was no other way to do it, than development of the private lots taking a number of years after that.

“The vacant lots will still exist, will be open to be used. They’ll be grassed and used for public events, so it’s not as if there will be dead space there.

“I think it will be a very active and interesting area.”